Nicholas Nickleby

A novel by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), published 1838–9.  Impoverished after his father’s death, the eponymous hero teaches at Dotheboys Hall, a school run by the hateful Wackford Squeers. In preparation for the novel in 1838, Dickens had visited Bowes Academy, one of a number of notoriously cheap and squalid Yorkshire boarding schools. In 1823, the headmaster, William Shaw, was prosecuted for beatings and neglect that had led to the blinding of two of his pupils. Dickens found matters little improved, and used Shaw as his model for Squeers. Later Nicholas is heartened by the patronage and philanthropy of the delightful Cheeryble brothers (based on the Grant brothers of Manchester). The novel did indeed pave the way for much-needed reforms. Nicholas’s travels with poor, frail Smike follow the picaresque tradition.

Charles Dickens
Full title:
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
Victorian literature
Literary period:

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